Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

The new Trump

by Frank Schnittger Sat Jun 5th, 2021 at 01:21:51 PM EST

Irish Independent, Letters: Edwin Poots's decision to stir trouble with his own `facts' is straight from the Trump playbook

The rhetoric from DUP leader Edwin Poots, about the Irish government, does little to promote peace and harmony. Photo: Clodagh Kilcoyne, June 05 2021 02:30 AM

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Intergenerational Justice, Part 2

by Frank Schnittger Sat May 29th, 2021 at 06:32:25 PM EST

Further to the discussion in Intergenerational Justice - Updated 15/5/21, the Irish Times has published another letter of mine trying to move the debate forward:

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Submission on Ireland Climate Action Plan 2021

by Frank Schnittger Mon May 24th, 2021 at 12:01:46 AM EST

The Irish government has issued a call for expert evidence in preparation for  the Climate Action Plan 2021 that it committed to as part of the programme for Government negotiated by the three parties in the coalition government: Fine Gael, Fianna Fail and the Green Party.

I had not intended to write a submission, as I do not consider myself to be a climate science expert.  However I came across a submission written by the climate change sceptic Irish Climate Science Forum and decided that it required a response. Their submission is not yet published on-line, and I will link to it when it is. However in summary, they contend that:

  1. There is no scientific basis for declaring a climate change emergency

  2. The government has not seriously considered the real implications of the proposed 2030 climate mitigation targets

  3. Ireland cannot afford the likely costs of meeting those targets.

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Human Rights

by Frank Schnittger Sun May 16th, 2021 at 12:51:26 PM EST

I am currently re-organising my diary index into a series of sub-indexes as it had exceeded the maximum length allowed for a diary and was losing entries at the bottom. This will take some time as some data was lost and as I have not been able to update the main index for a year in consequence. Please bear with me as publishing the sub-indexes one by one is the only way I can do this. This is a background activity so please don't recommend the sub-indexes as they are published as I don't want them to appear prominently under recommended diaries. I will re-publish the main index with links to sub-indices in due course. Thanks.

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Frank's Diary Index: US Politics

by Frank Schnittger Sun May 16th, 2021 at 12:27:52 PM EST

US Politics sub-index

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9. Global economics, politics, foreign policy and war.

by Frank Schnittger Sun May 16th, 2021 at 11:36:23 AM EST

I haven't been able to update my Story Index in ages because it has exceeded the maximum story length and was losing story entries at the bottom. So I'm going to break it up into multiple stories hyperlinked by topic.  Please bear with me as I have to publish each sub index in turn. Most of the links at the bottom are missing. I will fix in due course.

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Poots to lead DUP - where?

by Frank Schnittger Fri May 14th, 2021 at 06:33:41 PM EST

Edwin Poots has defeated Jeffrey Donaldson 19-17 in the first ever vote for the leadership of the DUP. Previous Leaders - founder Ian Paisley, Peter Robinson and Arlene Foster had been elected unopposed. The electorate consisted of elected DUP MPs and MLAs (Members of the N. Ireland Legislative Assembly) following a campaign which consisted of no public interviews whatsoever and just a 10 minute speech to a closed meeting of the electors. Apparently this was because the DUP considered the election an "internal matter", but it confirmed just how inward looking the DUP has become.

After his election, Poots promised to reach out to other leaders of Unionism in order to see unionists working together better. There was no mention of reaching out to nationalists or the growing numbers in N. Ireland who self-identify as neither unionist nor nationalist. His political priority is to end the N. Ireland protocol of the Withdrawal Agreement because it has created a customs border down the Irish sea, although he is all in favour of such a border when it comes to not implementing UK laws on homosexuality and same sex marriages.

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Intergenerational Justice - Updated 15/5/21

by Frank Schnittger Tue May 11th, 2021 at 10:10:53 AM EST

Letter published by the Irish Times today under the heading:
Older people have never had it so good

A chara, Several of your esteemed commentators have written letters bemoaning ageism and their perceived victimisation by society at large, and yet many older people have never had it so good.

Ireland's life expectancy continues to increase, and older people are consuming an increasing proportion of Ireland's ballooning health expenditure.

Older people have been favoured by earlier access to vaccines despite many younger frontline workers being more exposed to potential infection.

Unemployment is hugely skewed against younger people in our society, with 59% of people aged 15-24 currently unemployed.

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Goodbye Arlene Foster

by Frank Schnittger Thu Apr 29th, 2021 at 01:49:02 PM EST

Such has been the DUP's reputation for incompetence under leader Arlene Foster that many might make the mistake of seeing her departure as a positive development. However what finally broke the back of her support within the party is not the many scandals under her tenure - the collapse of Northern Ireland's power sharing executive in 2017, the loss of the unionist majority at Stormont, or the intense scrutiny of a judicial inquiry into her stewardship of the Renewable Heat Incentive scheme. It was her decision to abstain rather than vote against a Stormont motion condemning "gay conversion" therapies that ensured her demise.

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Time for Unionists to grow up

by Frank Schnittger Thu Apr 15th, 2021 at 03:17:03 PM EST

Peter Cardwell is an author and journalist and former special adviser to two Conservative secretaries of state for Northern Ireland. He lost his job as special adviser to the Justice Secretary and Lord Chancellor at the Ministry of Justice in a Boris Johnson cabinet reshuffle last year, and was previously special adviser to then Tory NI secretary of state James Brokenshire between 2016 and 2018.

The Irish Times has given him space to pen his view that "Unionism [is] not emotionally ready for conversation about united Ireland" in the latest of a long series of opinion pieces it has published from British and unionist sources, most of which have received a scathing reception from the Irish Times commentariat. I have written a long letter to the editor in response:

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EU must decide if it wants to be taken seriously

by Frank Schnittger Sat Apr 10th, 2021 at 09:37:01 PM EST

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Looking for a scapegoat

by Frank Schnittger Sat Mar 27th, 2021 at 10:42:55 AM EST

The vaccine roll-out has been a bit of a disaster for the EU, so obviously somebody has to be at fault. In the infantile world of much modern politics it's all about finding a scapegoat and it looks like the Irish government has decided that Ursula Von Der Leyen would be a good candidate for the role. Former UK Conservative party Leader and Brexiteer, William Hague, has described Ursula von der Leyen's time as president of the European Commission as "among the most dismal in its existence" and he clearly has the EU's best interests at heart. I have drafted a letter to the editor as follows:

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How Green is Ireland's Farming?

by Frank Schnittger Sun Mar 21st, 2021 at 09:45:16 PM EST

In 2019 the Irish Government announced the formation of a "stakeholder committee" to develop Ireland's Agri-Food Strategy to 2030. This included the great and the good in the agribusiness community plus some public service agency heads and representatives of the Farmers and Fishermen's associations. Representatives of the "environmental and food safety perspectives" were only appointed afterwards and their contributions studiously ignored to the point where the environmental representative felt obliged to resign.  Hence my letter to the editor below:

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Irish economy disengages from Britain

by Frank Schnittger Thu Mar 18th, 2021 at 08:16:58 PM EST


Annualised GDP growth per Quarter

Despite Brexit and the Pandemic, the Irish economy is predicted to record the highest growth rate in the world in 2020 thanks to a heavy concentration of pharma and medtech companies in the economy. Current projections for 2021 and 2022 are for continued growth in the 3-4% range. Gross GDP figures are, of course, hugely inflated by the activities of global corporations in the economy, but these % growth rates are on a like for like basis.

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The British Empire and Ireland

by Frank Schnittger Thu Mar 11th, 2021 at 01:31:14 AM EST


The British Empire and Ireland

A chara, - Professor Nigel Biggar writes: "If colonialists can `other' the natives, essentialising them into contemptible stereotypes, nationalists, too, can `other' the imperialists." This is a classic case of "both sides do it" as if there is an equivalence between the actions of the oppressor and the oppressed. The slave is not equally guilty of slavery as the slaver, even if he has reconciled himself to his fate, and ends up working for his enslaver.


The Irish literary and language revival was an act of opposition to colonial rule, not an expression of it, as Prof Biggar seems to imply. The fact that there were many outstanding individuals, some earning their living as servants of the empire, who did not subscribe to the "imperial project" and indeed ameliorated its worst effects, does not alter the fact that the main thrust of UK government imperial policy was one of domination and suppression.

History is complex, with many interwoven narratives, but to try to obscure its main thrust with anecdotes about those few people who swam against the tide is hardly an "ethical remembering". It demeans the achievements of those who stood out against the worst aspects of imperialism and uses them to justify or mitigate the acts of its worst perpetrators. Far from constituting a balanced historiography, it is a shocking washing of hands by a professor of moral theology. - Is mise,

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Fool me once, shame on you...

by Frank Schnittger Sat Mar 6th, 2021 at 02:08:59 AM EST

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. The UK government had already threatened to break international law with its Internal Markets Bill and was dissuaded from doing so only by the signing of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement.

Now the UK government is trying the same trick with the Northern Ireland Protocol - announcing unilateral changes without going through the joint committee set up to oversee its operation. Apparently Lord Frost, ex UK Brexit negotiator and recently promoted to Boris Johnson's cabinet, has decided that the way to deal with the EU is to play hardball, and the EU will fold. That worked so well for him last time!

Paul Johnson, UK ambassador to Ireland, had a letter published in the Irish Times yesterday arguing that the UK approach was perfectly legal and indeed was required to deal with the "problems being experienced in the everyday life of communities" and to "ensure cross-community support."

The response of Irish Times letter writers has been to laugh him out of court, although I have tried to address the argument point by point in my letter published today:

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Those whom the gods wish to destroy...

by Frank Schnittger Tue Feb 23rd, 2021 at 11:24:58 AM EST

"Those whom the gods wish to destroy...they first make mad" is an apt description of N. Ireland unionists theses days. David Trimble, Arlene Foster and a rake of DUP luminaries are going all out to try and bring down the N. Ireland protocol - having welcomed it when Boris first announced his deal last year. Legal actions are threatened together with dark mutterings of loyalist unrest. It doesn't seem to have dawned on them that it is part of an international treaty which cannot be unilaterally abrogated, although, sadly, the European Commission may have given them that idea. The Irish Times has published my letter on the subject... (fourth letter down and see below).

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Astra Zeneca UK contract signed day after EU

by Frank Schnittger Sat Feb 20th, 2021 at 04:52:24 PM EST

CNN is reporting that the contracts signed by Astra Zeneca with the UK and the EU are essentially the same, and both contain the "best efforts" clause Astra Zeneca has used in an attempt to weasel out of its contractual commitments to the EU. But the real bombshell is that it appears that the UK contract was signed the day after the EU contract, and not 3 months before, as AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot has claimed.

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National Myths [Updated]

by Frank Schnittger Fri Feb 19th, 2021 at 02:43:12 PM EST

Michael D Higgins, President of Ireland, is an old time socialist, university lecturer, sociologist, and poet from the left wing of the Labour Party. The role of President is largely a ceremonial one but he is following a relatively distinguished line of succession from Mary Robinson to Mary McAleese in taking an activist approach to the office and promoting gender and civil liberty issues. What these Presidents have in common is a rejection of simplistic nationalist myths and an abhorrence of violence for achieving political goals.

He has recently written an an op-ed in the Guardian in which he invited UK readers to share in his project of re-examining the myths of nationalism and imperialism and how they still shape our lives today. His piece provoked a vituperative anti-Irish response in the Daily Telegraph "The Irish president has a cheek lecturing Britons about history" and a chiding by Irish Times Columnist, Finn McRedmond, "Are we really entitled to lecture Britain about remembering?".

[Update]:The Irish Times has published an edited version of my letter in response under the headline Lecturing Britain about remembering?

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Submission on Irish Unification

by Frank Schnittger Sun Feb 14th, 2021 at 02:49:33 PM EST

The Constitution Unit at University College London has set up a working group comprised of 12 experts based at universities in Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, Great Britain, and the United States, to examine how any future referendums on whether Northern Ireland should stay in the United Kingdom or become part of a united Ireland would best be designed and conducted. They have issued an interim report and executive summary here.

Their starting point is the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement of 1998 which states that:

it is for the people of the island of Ireland alone, by agreement between the two parts respectively and without external impediment, to exercise their right of self-determination on the basis of consent, freely and concurrently given, North and South, to bring about a united Ireland, if that is their wish, accepting that this right must be achieved and exercised with and subject to the agreement and consent of a majority of the people of Northern Ireland

The 1998 Good Friday Agreement is light on the detail of how such referendums should be organised, and the interim report seeks to explore the options in this regard. I have submitted a response to the interim report as follows:

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News and Views

 June2021

by Bernard - Jun 1, 123 comments

Your take on this month's news

 May 2021

by Bernard - May 2, 160 comments

Your take on this month's news

 May-June Open Thread

by Bernard - May 2, 37 comments

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